Yes, This IS Crazy Expensive – What’s Worth It, Though?

There are some things people will splurge on for their skin. There are others that can be bought for less than $10 at your local drugstore (or, you know: theordinary.com)

However- there are, in my opinion, some pricy products that are worth splurging on. Does it mean your entire routine has to consist of Sisley-Paris, La Mer, & Tatcha? Absolutely not! We all know that high price tag does not necessarily mean a good product. Again, though – some products really are worth their weight in gold. These special products can be added to a simpler, cheaper routine. A few drops a day can enhance an otherwise ordinary, simple, & effective routine into a glowing, constantly clear, “I don’t need concealer” kind of look.

Introducing: Kypris Beauty. Kypris Beauty is a brand that flew under my radar, for the most part, until I started religiously reading sites like Into The Gloss. That’s because 1) they aren’t carried at Sephora, so it’s a separate process to purchase a Kypris product 2) nothing is under $70. It is admittedly a very, very pricy brand – I put it in the league of Drunk Elephant, Sunday Riley, & Tatcha.

Still – Kypris products really stood out. They seemed to focus most on their Antioxidant Dew, which I was confused by (moisturizer? serum? both?), as well as their Beauty Elixir I 1,000 Roses, an oil that is allegedly infused with the oils of – you guessed it – 1,000 roses.

So – like I’ve mentioned (several) times, skin care does not have to be outrageously expensive – it is absolutely possible to achieve clear, calm skin with drugstore or middle end products. That is what the majority of my skin care consists of.  & so: would owning full cabinet of Kypris products be something I would be able to financially maintain? Absolutely not! Still, I was genuinely curious. Would this brand that is organic, cruelty-free, & paraben-free truly stand up to its high price tag? I decided to try the products with the mindset that I could only pick one or two, & see if they actually were a life-changer in my skin routine.

Kypris was incredibly generous – they sent me a lovely box filled with products – products that, if I’d chosen all those items, I would not have been able to purchase myself.

So – is Kypris a brand that I could completely drop all my other products for? No, because it’s too pricy for a university student. But – after applying the “pick one or two” mindset, I think I have found at least one product that, for me, is worth it – & if I start narrowing down my routine like I have been considering (more on that to come, & check the bottom of the article for more information), these are products I would take along with me.

So, sit down, get some popcorn or something, & get ready for a review on Kypris products.

First of all, packaging. I got the most beautiful package, truly – the packaging was beautifully wrapped & protected, & came wrapped in a big pink satin bow.

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The stuff dreams are made of
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Gold-leaf detailing on the box
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Soooo much gold!
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Protective crinkle paper, an extremely sturdy box – & yes, those are the product boxes in the background.  I couldn’t help myself – I had to tear them all open!

Also included in the package was a little flyer of sorts; it explained the Kypris philosophies & motives on one side – on the other, it gave a little extra information on each product, which was nice – I like getting “secret” tips from the retailers. Skin care products can be used in so many ways by so many people, so it’s nice to have little life hacks, if you will, included in my  package from the actual company.

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A sheet of photos, directions, & instructions

 

Mini Beauty Elixir I $90 // Mini Beauty Elixir II– $88 

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Let’s start with the products that have the most jaw-dropping price on the Kypris site: the Beauty Elixirs. $90 is expensive, right? It’s one full-size Drunk Elephant serum, a Tom Ford Bronzing palette, 88 LA Girl lip glosses…you get my point. Not cheap!

What’s funny: These aren’t the full-size versions.

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The Mini Elixirs (there are three total for the face) are .47 fl oz. Not…a lot of product, especially when we’re looking at the price range: none of the three are under $70. 

Each of these Elixirs come in a full-size – those are $225 & $200. YUP! Clearly, this is in the leagues of Sisley-Paris. After I saw how much the elixirs cost, I really put them to the test – meaning, I microanalyzed my skin, I checked on daily photos of my face to look for improvement…& a whole lot of other things.

Before I review them individually, let me just briefly explain what these elixirs are all about.

“Elixir” is a pretty vague term. It could mean a setting spray, a toner, a serum – anything that has a potion-like consistency (at least, that’s how I like to think of it). & what are the Kypris elixirs like?

To be very brief: the Kypris Elixirs are oils. Described as “100% active, reparative beauty oils formulated by skin type,” all three elixirs contain vitamins E & C for brightening & hydrating; they contain various antioxidants to help repair/plump/heal. They all come in a full-size (the $200 size) & a mini (the $88 size).

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I enjoyed the consistency of the oils – they’re nice by themselves, & they’re nice when mixed into moisturizers. These can be used both day & night, according to Kypris, but I prefer using them at night.

The elixirs are very concentrated. I would say 2-3 drops (3 at most) does the job for your face. Yes – your entire face! Another positive: the dropper tapers down to a narrow point (similar to the Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Oil, for reference) which makes it easy to use a small amount – & also keeps the serum’s dropper from getting clogged. Small details matter when using an expensive product – truly! No excuses should be made. I was glad to see that this kind of design had be used for such an expensive product. It shows that the brand is committed to selling something that not only works, but can be dispensed & used to its full potential. That should be a given, especially for higher-end brands.

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Tapered dropper, with a rounded end – see the drop lingering there? This styleof dropper improves application exponentially

Scents: beautifully fragranced – floral but not cloying. They’re almost like a perfume – they just fade faster. Which, I think, is for the best – you all know I hate when my skin care & fragrance combine into one big mess.

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Alright. Let’s get into the individual reviews of the two Kypris Elixers I have, shall we? (see all the elixirs here)

Mini Beauty Elixir I (1,000 Roses)

Mini Beauty Elixir I is also called “1,000 Roses.” The name speaks for itself – the essential oils of 1,000 roses (surprise!) combined with some other “magic” ingredients to live up to the elixir label. Some other key ingredients? Pomegranate seed extract, kukui oil (extremely hydrating) & a few other “superfoods,” too.

I’ll narrow it down to this: it’s essentially a rosehip oil, with some other things in there. These things brighten your skin, balance hormonal acne, & plump & lift. That’s thanks to Vitamin C, E, & even some liquorice extract.

Kypris says this is the most universal of their three elixirs – it can benefit any skin type in some kind of way. That’s because rosehip oil has so many healing & soothing properties. The oil consistency of the elixir, meanwhile, ensures that dry-skinned people can reduce breakouts without drying to a crisp. “For rose lovers,” is the opening line in the product description. I’m a rose lover, & I absolutely love this. It has a lovely, subtle, floral, rosy scent that isn’t dry or stuffy – just very fresh, soothing, & calming…basically, it smells exactly how this kind of product should.

Now, this can be used many ways. Kypris recommends using it twice daily – but I’m keeping it ~relatively~ affordable here. Out of practicality & affordability, I wouldn’t use this product twice a day. That’s because although these products were sent to me (for which I am very grateful), I am trying to review as though I actually did buy all of these products with my own money. We’re always more careful when it comes to spending our own money – no one wants to waste any. That is, not any product, & not any money. Even so – price tag aside, I think 1,000 Roses is extremely effective used once a day – that’s how I use mine- & doesn’t need applying twice.

I have found 1,000 Roses is best either patted into my skin in my morning routine, or mixed with a small scoop of my night cream in the evening. Personally, I like giving rosehip oil some serious time – so I now apply it only in the evening. It’s very soothing, super hydrating, & behaves the same way by itself as it does mixed with a cream. I’ve noticed a decrease in redness since I started incorporating this.

Like I said – yes, this is a very expensive & fancy oil. If you’re looking for similar benefits that you see rosehip oil does, there are definitely many cheaper alternatives to this product – more bang for your buck. However – if you want a 3-in-1 kind of deal, this product is probably a good choice. Just a few drops will hydrate, balance, & brighten your skin. Again – it can be expensive, but if a little goes a long way, & you are looking to narrow down a skin care routine, it may be worth it. I’d suggest this for people who are more experienced in skin care/looking for some more sophisticated results than plain rosehip oil (which – don’t get me wrong – is amazing) – & looking to get rid of those boxes of unused skin care items & just find something effective, quick, & multi-purpose.

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The color of the actual product: 1,000 Roses is a golden-yellow, with a very luxurious consistency.

Mini Beauty Elixir II (Healing Bouquet) – $80

We’ve been through one of these. Let’s talk about the other: Healing Bouquet. Again, this is a pretty universally useable product. & again: it’s because an oil is hydrating – but an oil can be clarifying & soothing, too. Using an oil? Doesn’t mean you’ll end up a greaseball. I promise.

Healing Bouquet lives up to the word “healing” in its name. It contains 24 active natural ingredients – admittedly very impressive. These ingredients are meant to heal & sooth inflamed or irritated skin, prevent further damage to skin that has been overexposed to sun, & is a good product for more mature skin types, as the ingredients sink deep into the skin, plumping & lifting.

I used this as a night treatment: mixed it into my Glossier Priming Moisturizer, my favorite night cream. I had a small microabrasian on my chin from a healing spot – the next morning, all redness & irritation was gone. Like I said, it lives up to its name.

The scent is also extraordinarily calming, thanks to the essential oils: Indian jasmine, rose geranium, aged patchouli, and lavender. These give off a musky, floral scent that is definitely heavier than the scent of 1,000 Roses – it is absolutely not, however, an unpleasant scent. Kypris says that Healing Bouquet is also an aromatherpy. I’d agree. In fact, treat yourself: apply Healing Bouquet, then massage into your face for a few minutes. It’s like you’re in a spa. Turn down your lights, too. Atmosphere is key. 

Don’t get me wrong…I am 100% a rose lover, as Kypris would say. However, I have a great rosehip oil already. 1,000 Roses does a little more than that oil, but it’s not entirely unique. I have found Healing Bouquet to be extremely fast-acting, effective, &, yes, unique.

I find it odd that this elixir is $10 cheaper than its sister, 1,000 Roses – but then again, I don’t. If that elixir really includes the oil of 1,000 roses, that probably takes some work. Roses can get expensive, I do know that. However, if I had to personally choose between the two if I were to purchase one, I’d go for this one. It’s a great way to do some self care at night (try the jade roller), it heals skin (even my weak little immunosuppressed organ that I call skin!) very quickly, &…yes, it’s $10 cheaper. Is it still kind of crazy to pay $80 for half a fluid ounce? Yes, probably. But like I said – if you have problems with your skin healing, or have problems with recurring spots, this is probably a great choice. I think would also be great for immunosuppressed skin – I mean, here I am, testing it out, & seeing very quick & effective healing results.

So: which one? This one. Healing Bouquet, I like you lots!

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Here’s the actual color of this product: it’s slightly darker; more golden, I think. They don’t vary much in terms of color or consistency, but the scents are very different

 

Deep Forest Clay Mask – $88 // Glow Philtre Mask – $88

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The dreamy (& frighteningly effective) Kypris masks, in the flesh. Or clay. Or gel.

Okay. $88 for a product that stays on your face for an average of 20 minutes. That’s…a lot of money for a product like that.

Masks are my guilty pleasure. I love the sensation of wearing them, I always feel as though my skin will be flawless when I rinse off – even though that is most certainly not always the case – I love seeing before & after effects of masks.

I love me a good mask. $88 good? I was unsure. These masks are more than the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, one of the most expensive products on the trending market right now. Still – Babyfacial is worth its weight in gold. It was a good investment, & it lasts forever. So: is this duo worth it? Let’s see.

Deep Forest Clay Mask

I applied the Deep Forest Clay mask one morning when I had a lazy day. It comes sealed, which is another detail I appreciate seeing. Again – if you’re paying a higher price, I feel that you should expect a certain level of packaging, customer service, & effectiveness. It is a very soft clay; similar to soft ice cream when first applied (except…it doesn’t melt). Like most clay masks, it starts to dry until it cracks. Wash off in 20 mins. Voila.

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Sealed & ready to go

I looked in the mirror to check for results right off the bat. My skin looked more transluscent & less red, after washing off, but most of my other clay masks do that, too; ones like the Origins Rose Clay Mask, Glosiser Mega Greens Galaxy Pack, & Laneige’s Water Clay. Deep Forest Clay is a bit of an exception, however. Again, we’re back to the “multipurpose” product. I could see some pretty normal effects right after washing, but after a day, I could notice brighter skin, too. I saw my skin getting a little less congested, too.

I usually despise physical exfoliants – & this mask has a bit of texture to it. However, it’s soft & fine enough to not break skin (even sensitive skin) or irritate anything. It feels like a very filtered, thin, sand scrub.

Reduced redness makes sense. The mask contains algae, ocean salt, &, of course, ingredients from “the forest” like botanical exfoliants, roots, leaves, & flowers.

This has a very green, lemony scent. It gives off a whiff of mint, but it wasn’t cool or tingly upon application. The scent can get strong after a minute or two, but I’m not the best to say whether or not it’s worth it, since I truly don’t mind “odd” scents that many skincare products have (ex. Drunk Elephant C Firma).

Overall, this mask brightens, clarifies, exfoliates/resurfaces, & reduces redness & congestion. It can be used as a 20 minute treatment (that’s how I like to do it) but also as a quick detox if left on for five. I wouldn’t want to waste product for a five-minute mask, but Kypris also mentions that sensitive-skinned people seem to gravitate towards the five-minute masking method.

Will I purchase when I’m done with this? I don’t know yet! I’m leaning towards no, since I have a lot of effective masks that cost much less – & I think Kypris has some products that can be duped. However – there were more than a few that I was exponentially impressed by, & since I said I will act like I spent money on these products, I’m saving what I think is truly worth it for the lasts!

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Kypris suggests you apply “a generous dollop” of Deep Forest Clay for best results. I scraped off the amount stuck to the seal; this amount was able to cover my entire face. Softness of the clay is also quite evident here.

I will say: it’s an excellent clarifying mask & did a great job reducing some congestion on my skin. I know that a little goes a long way with this product, so I’m not worried about running out any time soon. Not sure if I’ll repurchase, but I think this is hands-down a very nice clay mask. Maybe not worth it for some, but at all sensitive-skinned people who struggle to find a clarifying treatment: this might be the one for you. The five-minute version will help you avoid bad reactions; the softness & moisture of the mask will keep you frome drying out. & remember – created to clarify & detoxify!

Glow Philtre Mask

This was a product I fell in love with before I even tried it. Why? Because I am weak. Because the packaging was white & gold, & the mask itself has flecks of glitter in it. Mention anything gold in my skin care & I will get right on it.

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The sparkle is subtle, so it’s not easy to catch on camera – however, when actually looking at the mask in person, it looks exactly like the outside packaging. In other words: we already know this is a “treat yourself” kind of mask.

The other golden mask I own is the Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Mask Pure Luxury Lift & Firm Mask – it’s supposed to tighten & brighten, & maybe it’s just me, but I don’t really see results when using it – at all. I was mad that I used Christmas money to buy it – & I was mad that I didn’t return it in time to get a refund. I use it as a hydrating, somewhat brightening mask, now – I don’t expect any other results. However, if you’re looking for something like the PTR Mask – but something that truly makes you smoother & glowier. I mean…the PTR mask is $80. The Kypris mask retails for $88. If you’re considering getting the PTR mask, I would point you this way instead. It is only $8 more expensive – & if you’re already thinking about investing that much money in a mask, I think the Glow Philtre will give you the results you might think the PTR one does.

Although the Glow Philtre Mask doesn’t have actual gold in it like the PTR one, it might as well be its first ingredient – that’s how much glow this mask gives you. Instant.

This is a mask that I applied, left on for 20 minutes, rinsed & patted dry – & saw a face about 10 times brighter & glowier. After a second use, my skin looked tighter & plumper, as well. There were very noticable results that occured in an incredibly short amount of time. Usually, I’ll use a mask more than twice before giving my thoughts on it – this one, however, I don’t need to worry about.

This is a gel mask, but it is an exfoliating mask, thanks to: pomegranate enzymes.  Brands like Drunk Elephant & Peter Thomas Roth use enzymes in their products, too – they’re brightening & resurfacing without being too irritating.

Is it an AHA mask? Nope, not as far as I can tell. It feels cool upon application, like any gel mask would. It smells fruity – not pomegranate, funnily enough, though some of the ingredients lower down specify citrus extracts – & citrus does have a powerful smell, so it probably would cut out any scent of a cranberry. That’s not a complaint, though: it smells very fresh & invigorating. I think it’s an amazing morning mask. Kypris thinks so too, actually: they say that it’s lovely to use post-skin care, pre-makeup. That’s because of the dewy glow it gives – without being oily.

When applied, the mask does not tingle at all. In fact, the whole 20 minutes I had on the mask, I was waiting for some kind of tingle or burn & I got none – hence my suspicion before I took a good look in the mirror, post-mask rinse.

This mask is a great choice for sensitive skin. It’s a great exfoliator (& brightener) that will not irritate your skin. Truly – I didn’t even feel a tingle. When I took it off, though, I looked as though I’d used an AHA mask – but I hadn’t! It was all Glow Philtre.

This mask is not recommended to be used more than 3 times a week – I definitely agree with this. I would even go so far as to say that once a week is plenty. That means: 1) there is more product for a longer period of time 2) there is a reason to look for Sunday evening: detox day!

Would I purchase this mask? Out of the two of the masks, this is the one I would consider splurging on. I loved the results. They were very unique, literally instant, & didn’t dry me out, clog my pores, burn my skin, or even tingle. All in all, it’s a great product, I think it’ll last me a good long time, & like my beloved Babyfacial, this is a mask I would consider investing in (hit me up on Venmo, though).

Seriously, though – I found these results to be very good & very unique. When a product is unique, that’s what helps me know it is worth it (usually). The zero tingles but extremely bright skin was what did it for me. I don’t think I’ll have to be purchasing it myself due to the amount of product you need (not that much) & the fact that it doesn’t have to be a daily treatment. Maybe for Christmas? We’ll see. But, again: if you’re thinking about a luxury mask similar to the PTR one, skip over it & head for the Kypris Glow Philtre, instead. If you’re paying a lot for a mask, it better be good! This one is absolutely, without a doubt, very, very good.

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From the air: Deep Forest Clay on the Left, Glow Philtre on the right
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Sealed packaging. The little white circle works great as extra protection to the product, even after the seal has been broken. Nice!
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Thing 1, Thing 2.
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(I like Thing 2 better). Shh.

 

Would I repurchase both? Well, I definitely wouldn’t do it at once. I do think there are a lot of clay masks out there that work just as well as this one, although this one has a few unique features that generally (though not completely) would explain the high price tag. Maybe if Kypris had a mask duo that would help save a little money, I’d get them as a duo. However: Glow Philtre blew my mind. It’s truly incredibly unique – & again, if you’re in the market for a truly excellent mask that works, this one will do it for you.

 

Antioxidant Dew – $72

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In her beautiful, beautiful glory

Aaaand this is it folks. This is it. THIS IS IT! This is the product that I will be telling everyone they need for the rest of…forever, probably.

Okay, so: what the heck is an antioxidant “dew?” I was very confused when I saw that a product labelled as a “dew” came in a vial. I had expected a spray of some sort; maybe a toner. Not so!

Essentially? It’s a fancy word for “serum.” But what a serum! It is thin in consistency, & is a light, almost opaque milky-white. It looks very…underwhelming. Boy, was I wrong.

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The long, long, long dropper of the Antioxidant Dew. I found it odd that this dropper wasn’t pointed, like the Beauty Elixir droppers. No problems, though – everything dispenses just fine. I’ll keep an eye out for a clogged dropper, though, just to be safe!
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Against a bright light – it’s the best way to describe the consistency of this product.

Kypris claims that the Antioxidant Dew “restores hydration, vitality, & radiance to skin.” That’s a very simple way of describing all the things it does, so let’s go:

First of all, it’s gluten-free – I personally don’t have a problem with gluten in my products, but for people who do: this is probably a really nice serum for you. It is good for all skin types, but especially those who have imbalanced complexion, signs of environmental stress, or acne. But wait, there’s more! The Antioxidant Dew is free of any essential oils, which is pretty amazing for some sensitive-skinned people. It provides moisture (hence “dew”) but doesn’t do it in a way that incorporates oils. Think of it as a water gel cream, but in serum form.

This was the first Kypris product I gave a go. I patted it on my face after toning & applying one other serum: Glossier Super Pure, a holy grail of mine. Throughout the day, I would stop & marvel at my complexion. It was an extremely dewy look, but it didn’t feel or look like sweat or oil. It was more from underneath the skin, not on top. This means that the product absorbs incredibly well, which it does! There’s more evidence for this, too: it doesn’t pill off of my face like some serums tend to do (help! Anyone have this issue with some of The Ordinary’s serums?), which always messes up my routine & ends in frustration.

Nope! Just drop 3 or so drops into the palm of your hand & gently pat into your skin. I apply it the way I would an essence. Three drops is all you need…truly! If need be, rub on palms first, then pat all over the face. I’ve tried it both ways, because in my experience, the application method I choose to use depends on the serum I am using. Palms on face seems to work best with this product.

Like all the other Kypris products, Antioxidant Dew is chock-full of antioxidants & other naturally-sourced ingredients. It contains a ton of ocean extracts and herb derived antioxidants, which provides hydration without unncessary heaviness, enhances plumpness, helps skin heal faster Vitamins C & E (as well as a variety of botanicals) provide the brightening, dewy effect.

This is supposed to be beneficial to all skin types, & I agree. Again – that’s because it is a multi-purpose product. It can be used “as a lightweight multi action moisturizer or as a potent layering piece in your skincare wardrobe,” Kypris says on the product page. Oily-skinned? Maybe use just this as a day moisturizer. Combo? Apply extra where you need it. Normal? Of course you’ll do fine! Dry? Use it as, yes: a layering piece. That’s what I have been doing.

Again, Kypris suggests using this twice a day, but I don’t think that’s necessary. Three drops in morning or evening is all you need! I prefer morning for this particular product, thanks to the brightening effect, but others may feel differently…& that is fine.

Honestly, out of all the products I recieved, I can absolutely say that this is one Kypris product I won’t hesitate to refill when I run out of the one I recieved. This stuff works – you don’t need as much of it as you would a mask (ex. Glow Philtre), it’s incredibly hydrating, incredibly cleansing & purifying, & all-round a truly amazing product.

To put some pricing reference here, let’s compare a similar high-end brand’s serum to the Antioxidant Dew. How about Drunk Elephant C-Firma? It’s 80 dollars, one pump works for the entire face (no more is necessary) & it contains 1 fl oz. of product. Antioxidant Dew is $72, & is nearly 1.6 fl oz. – technically, it’s 1.59 fl oz.

So, okay, let’s clarify. I initially thought this was a $72 dollar toner or face mist. Something like that? A hard nope. $72 for a toner is…very extra, as you can find incredibly cheap & effective ones online, at Ulta, at the drugstore…heck, even at Whole Foods, if you’re a fan of good old rosewater & glycerin.

This is not a toner. But…it’s not exactly a serum, either. It’s not thick enough to be an essence. I’d feel safe in calling it an emulsion. What’s an emulsion? It’s a beauty product founded in Korea, & was only up til recently carried by Korean brands. American brands have started expanding their product lines with essences, emulsions, & other K-beauty products, since they are so effective.

Sorry, got off track. What’s an emulsion?

It’s a skin-balancer. It ensures your skin maintains good levels of oil & hydration – healthy levels! This balancing act (hah) keeps skin clearer & glowier over time.

That’s what I feel safest comparing the Kypris Antioxidant Dew to. But – no matter what you want to call it, this is a product that 1) I know will last me a good while 2) I know I will be purchasing it myself after this magical vial has done all its work.

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Some very fancy packaging called for some fancy objects to be casually placed next to the product. Just because, you know?

Overall thoughts?

Kypris is an admittedly expensive brand – no ifs, &’s, or buts about it. You will pay a pretty penny for a vial or jar of a Kypris product, & in my opinion, not all were created equal. Some are absolutely worth every penny (hello again Antioxidant Dew); some can be gently passed over. Here’s a list of the order I would put the products in – aka, the ones I would seriously consider buying vs the ones I probably wouldn’t purchase unless I had a good bit of extra cash.

Remember, though: everyone’s skin type is different, & some of you may gravitate more towards the Deep Forest Mask! Maybe you absolutely need an Elixir! But – if you have the same skin type as me & are considering a “treat yourself product,” check out the list I have made. Even if you don’t have my type of skin, this still might be helpful. After all – Kypris products do work on all skin types. Some just work better on certain types than others. It’s all about knowing what you need or want to improve, & finding a product that matches that. So, enough rambling: here’s my final verdict. Kypris sent me these products, but let’s theoretically say that they’re all gone now – & I can only pick one product to use again & again. Here they are, listed by priority:

  1. Antioxidant Dew – The cheapest of the lot, the most unique of the lot, & the one that had the most instant results, in my opinion. A little goes a long way, & I think this vial is worth keeping on hand. It’s truly magic in a bottle.
  2. Glow Philtre Mask – An expensive-ass gel mask, but an effective-ass gel mask. Like I said – if you’re going to claim that your mask glows, go right ahead – but if it costs over $50, it better make my skin glow glow. This one does that. If you’re on the hunt for a bougie mask that actually works, this is the one. There are a lot of $80 masks out there – they all claim they’re groundbreaking. Not so for 99% – this one, however, is doing just great.
  3. Mini Beauty Elixir II (Healing Bouquet) – A pricy, pricy product, no two ways about it, & you don’t get a lot. But…but…there are a lot of great ingredients, it feels luxurious, the dropper is well-made, & you only need a very little amount. It truly works wonders on inflammed, irritated skin. Again – it does what the name says, & it does it well.
  4. Deep Forest Clay Mask – Yup, there are a lot of clay masks on the market. You can definitely find a great one for a lot less money…but if you have sensitive/dry skin, have trouble finding clay masks that don’t leave you feeling like a painful piece of sandpaper, & don’t have much time, either (five-minute mask method, remember?), this is the one for you. The softness & soothingness of the clay is what makes this product unique. That is why I think it would be great for people who are otherwise too sensitive for clay masks – but still want the clarifying effect of a clay mask.
  5. Mini Beauty Elixir I (1,000 Roses) – Yes, it’s good. Yes, it’s luxurious. Yes, it’s a high-quality oil. Yes, it smells good. But it’s not that good. You can find a lot of enhanced rosehip oil products, & to me, this was not unique enough to justify the price. It is a dream to use a product named “1,000 Roses,” isn’t it? I don’t dislike it – but if push came to shove, Healing Bouquet would come out the winner…for me, at least.
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A happy, luxurious little family.

At the end of the day, when I’m reviewing an expensive product (or products) I really look for the most unique products. Obviously, they must be effective, too – but my point is that if I’m shelling out a considerable amount of money for a serum, mask, cream…it better be good. Really good. Honestly! This isn’t meant to be dramatic, I am just being up front. Some things are much better when they’re more expensive…but as brands like Tonymoly, The Ordinary, & Glossier (some products, not all) have taught us, skin care doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. You can find wonderful rosehip oils for $6! You can find decent moisturizers at CVS. You can maintain a cheap & effective routine, & keep up clear skin while you’re doing it. Then, add a few little luxuries. If you do your research, get some samples, & read some reviews, you’ll be able to find ones that work as beautifully as they look – & look as beautiful as they feel. There are products out there that are worth every penny & make you savor every drop. So, what’s the Kypris product that meets that criteria? Hands-down, Antioxidant Dew.

 

Hold up: I want to take a couple moments to say thank you: firstly, thank you so much to Kypris for sending me these jars & vials of liquid gold! I feel incredibly lucky to have recieved these beautiful products. I also want to thank all of you reading this, all of you who follow me on social medias & look forwards to reading what I have to say. Your support means the world, it always will, & you are what make things like this review possible – & this was so, so exciting for me.

& so, after all those photos, all those thoughts, & all that ingredient-listing, & the thank yous, here’s my conclusion:

Get the Antioxidant Dew! You are welcome.

Love,

Sof ❤

What product, based on my descriptions & reviews, would you considering purchasing a Kypris product? If so, which would it be – & why? Do you own any Kypris already? If so, what do you have? Do you think it’s worth it? Again: why? Let me know…I love hearing from all of you!

-S

I AM NOT YOUR INSPIRATION!

"You're so strong!" "Thank you for staying so strong!" "I seriously don't know how you do it!! If I were you I'd just wanna be dead oh my god!" "How do you do all this? Superwoman I swear!"

*Record scratch*

Okay, so those are all actually comments I have (unwillingly) recieved from people in real life & people on the Internet.

Look: I know that I may seem strong. Every chronically ill person may seem that way. It sounds like a lot to put up/cope with, none of it is fun – & all of it is stressful. But guess what: I'm not an inspiration just because I'm ill! Neither is any other chronically ill person.

Ever since I revealed that I'd been diagnosed with a chronic illness, people would never fail to say "stay strong!" "get better" or: "You're so strong. Keep it up."

This has always rubbed me the wrong way. Why?

Well, it's because I'm not always strong. Some days, I'm just existing. Others, I'm making the most out of the body I have. Sometimes I will stay up til 3 a.m., crying from pain or frustration – & then I'll see a comment about how strong I am.

It's funny, but when you're clutching your abdomen, lying on the cold tiles of your bathroom floor at 3 a.m., "strong" becomes less & less encouraging to see & more irritating. "DO YOU NOT SEE ME THIS WAY!" I want to yell. But I can't, because they don't know what I do at 3 a.m. or 3 p.m. They see the parts of my life that I broadcast on social media.

Have I cried before a surgery or an IV? Of course! Does that make me weak? No!!! Why on earth would it be weak? It's a genuine reaction of fright – one that is completely understandable & valid.

If crying over an IV isn't weak, then me simply existing as a chronically ill person isn't strong.

I decided to write this piece when I came across the lovely Instagram account of artist Mari Andrew. She posted two pieces of art in quick succession. Here was the first:

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When I read the remarks made on the illustration, I wanted to weep. It was extraordinarily relatable. Because…guess what? Mari Andrew is right. Some days, I don't feel like myself at all. I can get brought down, or I can get bad news from my doctor – & at the same time I'll be getting messages about how strong I am…as I'm sobbing my guts out in the doctor's waiting room.

Basically: this illustration is showing how disabled people become props or medallions to abled people. I've gotten people saying how my illness was a reminder of how lucky they were. I was a reminder that they're privileged.

Uh…news flash: I don't want to be reminded of my own physical & mental illnesses by someone who is able-bodied & of sound mind – someone telling me that my suffering is a cause for their inspiration.

So, if we're really getting savage, that's why calling a chronically ill or disabed person "strong" isn't the right word. No one is strong all the time – I know I'm not. Being sick & getting treatments or surgeries isn't something I do electively. I either put up, or I die. Which one would you choose? Probably the first one. & you probably wouldn't think that you were "being strong" to pick that option, right? That's how it is for me. Some days, I just want to collapse – that's normal. Some days, I want to go out with friends – also normal.

I know that I myself am not "normal" but being told that I'm "strong" implies that I'm a robot; that I'm nothing but some images you can send to friends to talk about my inspirational qualities (if you want to send pictures of me to your friends to tell them how hot I am that's 100% okay). It implies that I'm either more or less human. Neither option is an appealing one.

I also find the statement: "get better!" very very odd. Chronic illnesses are…chronic. There is no "get better." Sure, I can be stable – but after I was diagnosed, there bbecame a whole new normal – & its as difficult & dark & big to navigate through as The Upside Down in Stranger Things. So. Don't call me strong, & don't tell me to get better…because we both know that's a lie!

If you're abled, reading this, & feeling umcomfortable about having described me or some other disabled person as "strong" that's okay. I know that people mean it only with their best wishes & intentions. I know they mean well, but that doesn't mean that it is well. If you've told me this/something like this before, don't apologize or feel badly! Here's a follow-up to the first photo & the story behind it, also by Mari Andrews:

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Again, she says it better than I do. But seriously: the "therapy method" works. I do it with my chronically ill friends all the time! Listen! Say that you care about them & that you're sorry they're going through this. Ask what you can do to help; what you can do to make them feel more in control of a situation – or at least calm them down.

I also love the "no need to respond" text. I do this all the time with my friends. If they're not feeling well, I'll send them something nice but include a reminder that they don't need to respond…because guess what? Some days, people are too sick & not "strong" enough to answer. Sometimes responding to people takes up too much energy & too much of your mental capacity. It's okay not to engage with people – look for friends & lovers who understand that kind of need.

Let's be real: I've been in a bad place before, gotten a few "I love you" or "I am so sorry & I am thinking of you" texts…& started bawling…in the best way possible. These kinds of out of the blue messages are incredible, because they remind me that I am surrounded by people who care about me. That gives me incentive to keep crawling.

Let me just be clear. If you're chronically ill, I won't be offended by any "chronic illness jokes" that you tell me or share with me. I try to find as much humor as possible in certain situations. I share them with friends. My friends share theirs with me. It is a great way to laugh together about things you both relate to. I believe that if I didn't insert at least a little humor into my life, things would be horrifically drab & sad! Sometimes it's fake – but even fake fools me for a little bit.

By the way: I am not saying that people in a dark place about their illness(es)/bodies can just force themselves to be funny. Some people can't – that sucks, but it's also okay. Just know that if you're chronically ill & you want to connect with someone to make a light joke, I'm here for that!

If you're an abled person messaging me about how strong I am to get a painful IV placement, an abled person trying to be relatable & joke about chronic illness, or an abled person being generally insensitive about my condition…bye! Blocked. Reported. Not to say you can't relate…but you really can't relate. That's okay!!! Feel glad that you don't have to relate.

I think sometimes, people believe that I have this extremely positive view on my future & my life; that I have loving relationships with people & that things are always joky, & light-hearted. This perception would probably be described (by the layman, at least) as "being strong."

Let me spill the beans & let you know that you're not missing out. Not one bit. In fact, you're winning!!!!! Big winning. So. Much. Winning.

Here are things you can say to me (regarding my illness)that I would appreciate:

  • Being told that I've helped someone deal with their chronic illness. That's such a great feeling to have!!!
  • Being told I'm cute or hot – but not like "aw it's okay you're cute no matter what you're sick with." We all know THAAAAATTT!!! Just tell me I'm cute. No need to put my illness in there. Being cute or hot doesn't have to be "in spite of anything." Nope – I can just be cute!!! & you can tell me so
  • "Is there anything I can do for you?" "Do you want to just let it out to me?" "I love you, & this is a bad day, but maybe it'd be better if I sent you this playlist I made for you!"

Simple things like that. They don't require much effort. In fact, it's the same amount of effort to say "sending you good thoughts today!" as "you're so strong I could never do it" – & I feel really good about the first one, & really annoyed about the second one.

I'm not your inspiration. I'm not always strong. I've danced on tables, I've gotten too drunk at a party. I've made bad choices. I've made people cry. I've made people scream. I'm not always "a good person." My mama still yells at me for leaving empty cups in my room – that didn't change when I got ill. If my mama can still yell at me about my empty cups, you can definitely just…not…say "the s word" & say "I hope you're doing well today, & if not, I hope tomorrow will be better."

Listen to me. Listen to us. Remember that disabled people are the root cause of so events that have occured throughout history. Remember that we are PEOPLE. We are not flawless. I still make people mad, just like you. I don't always bite my tongue. & all of that is absolutely okay. Trust me – I'm not strong. You can start fresh by saying "you don't have to be strong, you just need to know that I can care." You can start fresh by not saying "oh no!! You're so strong, trust me!" You can start fresh by saying nothing at all.

I will continue to uplift & support women & girls who are chronically ill. I have spoken to so many wonderful people with illnesses. I've also spoken to mean people with illnesses. Just because you're sick doesn't mean you're an angel. For some reason, people still seem to think this – & it's just not true.

I find relatability by making friends with chronically ill young people. But I am not automatically your friend if I'm chronically ill & you are too. That would negate my whole point: I am a complex human being!  I've done mean things & embarrassing things. I'm a person. I have no problem talking to people who aren't chronically ill; just because someone's chronically ill doesn't automatically make me their friend…& that's normal. In fact, it's humanizing disabled people. It's making us more than bodies examined by doctors, nurses, or curious physician'a assistants.

So, next time you see me – or any other chronically ill person- talking about not feeling so good, say "I'm sorry." "I'm thinking of you." When I or another chronically ill person have something to say about ableism; have something to say about our treatments; have something to say about our life…listen. Just listen, open your ears. Provide love & support. Be a reminder that they don't always have to be stone-faced.

Being chronically ill is a huge burden. It never fails to make those who are chronically ill feel guilty, weighed down – & also feel like they're a burden to others. Calling chronically ill people "strong" is putting more pressure on us. It's making our burdens harder to carry. So: call me hot instead. Call me interesting instead. Ask me a serious question about my illness instead.

&, you know. "I love you" is always great, too.

Love,

Sof ❤

#JulyPlaylist: Some Thoughts. & Tunes, Of Course

Fast, Sof! You don't have time! 

I actually do, but I think it'll be better for all of us if I explain why I chose some of these songs – & then we get to actually listen to them.

I saw Baby Driver. I related to it a lot – soundtrack to my life to cope with experiences. That's why you see a lot of it scattered on here. There are some good, old-fashioned bobs like A$$ – there's also new, like SZA & Kendrick's duo track. Harry Styles' album is all about missed connections; missing & yearning for what one can no longer have. Lorde's latest album & Dua Lipa's latest single are about taking independence – while also revealing their raw emotion. They're two very talented women that are very relatable to me right now. Creep? This is a cover by the Vega Choir. If you watched The Social Network, you'll have heard it. I hadn't listened to it in ages; found it, played it. Keeper! Aminé's album came out only a few days ago – I already loved one song enough to put it on my monthly playlist.

This choice makes sense, though. Wearing yellow, being happy, laughing more, dancing more. Those are things I need to work on. This playlist is about old & new people & things; it's about people I can relate to; it's about just really liking a song; it's as good a description of my month as I can give. Let's get to listening. I'll link something special at the very bottom.

Love,

Sof ❤

  1. bellbottoms - the john spencer blues explosion
  2. harlem shuffle – earl, bob
  3. chinatown – girlpool
  4. new flesh – current joys
  5. water - jack garratt
  6. doves in the wind – sza, kendrick lamar
  7. fetish – selena gomez, gucci mane
  8. new rules – dua lipa
  9. drowning - a boogie wit da hoodie, kodak black
  10. dance (a$$ remix) - big sean, nicki minaj
  11. creep - vega
  12. yellow - aminé, nelly
  13. from the dining table - harry styles
  14. supercut – lorde
  15. debora - t. rex

Here's a video of my month of July, in 55 seconds.

My Tattoos: Why, How, When, Where: Diary

“Never. No, I really don’t think I ever will. It’s just not my thing. Plus, it might affect my performances.”

That’s what I had to say about tattoos for a good long time. A good long time = 17 years. I wasn’t interested in getting one, I didn’t know what I’d get, & yes, I did actually worry about it affecting my career – both as a music student who would perform frequently in sleeveless clothing, & as a professional violinist in the classical music world, where tattoos are, for the most part, taboo.

Not interested, didn’t really care. “I just don’t know what I’d put on my body!” I’d tell everyone who asked if I would ever get one, & to those who would show me theirs. I genuinely wasn’t interested.

Then I got sick. After I got sick, I went on immunosuppressants pretty quickly – about one and a half months after diagnosis, to be more specific. That meant that my immune system was now weaker, & wouldn’t be able to fight off infections, bacteria, viruses, or foreign objects (such as tattoo ink or a piercing) as easily. Immunosuppression shouldn’t be taken lightly; it’s killed people & continues to do so. Before I went on these drugs, my doctors told me to get all my vaccines finished up (vaccines can be dangerous if you’re immunosuppressed, since you are technically being injected with a small dose of the bacteria/virus that is the root cause of whichever disease the vaccine targets), to read some articles on immunosuppression & what precautions I could & should take, & to basically tread carefully wherever I went.

So, I was pissed. I was pissed about my diagnosis, pissed that I now had “rules” to follow – even though I was now almost 18 – & just pissed in general at the world, because now, all of a sudden, tattoos were forbidden fruit. No fruit is sweeter than that of the forbidden.

I started to look up cool tattoos. This was, coincidentally, around the time when Buzzfeed released a few videos of people getting tattooed for the first time, & when “Tumblr tattoos” (small, abstract designs, two or three words, or, yes: That One Picasso Sketch) became the new trend. I was seeing very cool body art for the first time, & now, I “couldn’t” get one.

Then, my mama surprised me with some news: she’d contacted Make-A-Wish, & since I had not yet turned 18, I qualified. I was…pretty overwhelmed. Before this, I didn’t actually know that Make-A-Wish was for any child or teenager with an illness – I just thought it was for children or teenagers with cancer. Not so! Make-A-Wish people came to my house, sat down at my table, & asked “what is your wish?”

Well…it was to meet One Direction, yup. Nope, I’m not ashamed of it anymore! I used to be super embarrassed about telling people that I wished for that. Why should I be? I loved those boys all through high school, & their music kept me cheerful for those two & a half-ish hellish weeks in the hospital in March of 2015. They made me happy. I’m not embarrassed to say so anymore; what’s the shame in loving something that makes you happy? Anyways, I digress! My point: my answer was already on my tongue by the time I was sat at the table.

It took about a month, & I got a call: my meeting with One Direction was arranged for August 29th at one of their concerts, & I’d be able to spend actual time with them. After the initial shock, disbelief, & happiness, I started to think. Harry (my unashamed favorite) was actually a big style inspiration for me – fun fact, he continues to be! Those black jeans with every shirt, pointed-toe cowboy-esque boots, coupled with some seriously lovely tattoos. We all know his vibe. Even if you don’t like Harry Styles, you’ve seen him around town (or your screen) & I know you’ve looked at him & thought he looked stylish & put-together more than once. Don’t deny it!

I really liked Harry’s tattoo style. They were mostly abstract doodles – sure, there was his big (nude) mermaid on the forearm, & that big butterfly on the chest, but although they looked beautiful on him, I wasn’t planning on getting a nude mermaid any time soon. It was those little careless doodles that really appealed to me. That got me thinking: what if I got Harry Styles to draw me a tattoo?

Well, spoiler alert: he did. & he did it beautifully, & when he asked what he should draw, I told him to make the call – so it really is made up by Harry Styles’ mind. I won’t get into more detail, because that’s not the point of this post! But it was a wonderful day, he is a wonderful person, & I left starry-eyed, clutching a small piece of notebook paper on which I had a doodle written in black Sharpie marker.

A few months passed. I went to university. I decided to get my tattoo. I was barred – by my mama. She couldn’t physically stop me, of course – but she freaked me out enough by talking about risks due to my immunosuppression that I let it go. But I didn’t actually let it go: my tattoo stewed in the front of my mind for months, & months.

Maybe everyone hoped I would forget about it? Maybe I’d lose interest? Who knows. But I kept asking my doctor. I kept asking my mama. I kept getting my blood drawn to check my white blood cell count, to see if it was safe.

Many months (& tears) later, I had my mother’s blessing, as well as my doctor’s. I walked into the tattoo parlor, ready to go. About 20 minutes later, I walked out – big smile on my face, & a bandage on my left “side-boob.”

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All ready to go, sitting on the table

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An EXTREMELY gleeful & ecstatic Sof, outside the tattoo parlor, post-tattoo
(I know, you’re probably wondering why I’m not showing the world – I just choose not to, that’s all!) 

So…why was I so insistent about this? Why didn’t I just let it go?

Well, for one, it was a drawing Harry Styles made specifically with my body in mind – I didn’t want the drawing to go in a cupboard…I wanted it on me. Like I mentioned before, fruit is sweeter when it’s forbidden, & the tattoo situation was no exception. &, finally, here’s the biggest reason:

When I was diagnosed, put on medication, subjected to countless procedures, infusions, exams, & doctors, I felt like the control I had over my life was slipping out of my hands. I had scars I didn’t ask for; scars I hated. I felt like I was completely at the mercy of my illness. I felt like I wasn’t really my own person. I desperately seeked for ways to reclaim my own body. This tattoo was one of them. I figured that if I had some scars that I hated on my body, I might as well make some permanent marks on my body that I actually liked.

If you’re wondering if I had any issues with healing: no, I didn’t. Well…that’s not entirely true. A few weeks after I got my tattoo, I was in the hospital overnight for a high fever – however, I’m still unsure whether the tattoo was the cause, as it was many days after I’d been tattooed. Regardless, the skin healed just fine, I had no other issues, & it sits happily on my left side to this day.

So, it sat for a few months, & I was all good & happy. By this time, however, I already knew I wanted more. I didn’t know when, or what, but I knew that I would get more.

Not many months after (about 5) I got another. This one was without the blessing of my doctor or my mother – in fact, it was without their knowlege, as well. This one is one you’ve probably seen if you follow me on social media – I don’t hide it, & am, in fact, very proud of it. You know the one: those two pointy things on my right inner upper arm. Some people thing they’re knives (??) others think they’re claws. They’re actually a pair of cat fangs. I decided on this because we’d lost my childhood cat in January (we had to put him down as he had an uncontrollably large tumor). I figured it would be a good way to pay homage to the cat who’d gotten me through my childhood, solidify my status as a cat lady, & also look very cool – fangs are edgy.

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The man himself: Pimpuś, a Siamese cat with a loving, social personality, beautiful blue eyes, & the loudest meow of all. Seriously. Pimpuś is the name of a cat in a children’s storybook in Poland (name credits to my tata)
So, I saved up some money, called a place a block from my residence at school, & trotted on over one cold evening. I was done, & I was happy. It felt…very good…(sorry, Mama!) to do something so spontaneously.

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Still on the tattoo table, with my just-finished pair of fangs

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The final result
Did I know the risks? Yes. Did anything bad happen to me, like a fever, a skin infection or the link? No. Did my mother get furious at me when she found out abou 3 weeks later? Yes. But it was already there. Do I regret it? No, I do not.

Maybe I would’ve regretted it if something bad had happend…but I still don’t think I would. Call me irresponsible; it’s fine. But I think it’s hard to make people understand the mindset of a sick person without actually being a sick person. Like I mentioned before: sickness = lack of control. Lack of control = frustration, anger, sadness, & the feeling of helplessness. I hate those feelings. I wanted to feel normal for an hour or two. So, yes – I pulled a rebellious teenager & went out to “get inked.”

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About a month ago (via my Instagram), showcasing it loud & proud
My parents were not very happy & actually quite concerned that I’d done this. I get it – from a parental perspective, it’s probably nerve-wracking to have your chronically ill, mentally unstable (at the time) daughter go out & get a tattoo without your knowlege. But…I did it, & it took a long time for me to explain why I did it, but they get it. My mama has literally told me “I understand.” They’re glad I’m okay, they’re glad it went safely & that I was as responsible as I could be for doing something so irresponsible – & that’s the end of it.

So, now for the questions: the usuals are “what do they stand for?” “how many do you have?” & the big one: “how much did they hurt?”

What they stand for: My “Harry” tattoo marks an extremely happy event in my life that occurred after I was diagnosed, when I was still very angry & sad about my illness, still in stages of denial, & convinced that I would never be truly happy again. Meeting One Direction – especially Harry, who’s inspired my style, helped me come to terms with other parts of myself, including my sexuality – was one of the purest days I’ve had. I experienced nothing but raw, unfilitered joy & happiness…something that I didn’t think would be possible after getting diagnosed. Now, whenever I feel bad, I try to look in the mirror or down my side at my tattoo. It really does serve as a reminder that despite all the fear & pain I experience, there have been & will be days that make being alive a hell of a lot of fun. So that’s that. My fangs tattoo is kind of a symbol of me taking control over my own body, a reminder that in the end, I actually do hold the controls – I can stand up to a doctor, I can refuse treatment, I can decide not to take a medication. It’s a reminder that while I have the authority to end my life, I am actually choosing not to. It’s a reminder that I am actually choosing these treatments, even though they’re no fun at all. It’s a reminder that the disease I have was absolutely not my choice – but I can still do things that help me cope with the things I have to put up with.

How many do you have? Do you want more? As of right now, I have two: the two I talked about in this post. Yup, I do want more! & I will get more. Right now, I don’t have the desire or inspiration. But when I do, I will get another one. Maybe even two more. Or three. I don’t know! But I do want more.

How much did they hurt? For me, not at all, honestly. My pain tolerance has been distorted thanks to my illness – I don’t blink at IVs anymore, & I can even inject myself with my own medications – & they both hurt way less than an IV, in my opinion. Remember: everyone’s pain tolerance is different, & different people have different opinions on what hurts more. I was warned that a tattoo on my side would be very painful, & that the upper inner arm wasn’t a picnic, either. But truly – I didn’t have an issue with either of my tattoos. Granted, they’re both small, & granted, I can usually tune out pain pretty well…but still, even if I weren’t ill, I don’t think I’d be bothered. I was nervous for the first one, yes, but once the gun got going, I was completely fine. I’d best describe it as a cat scratch! It hurts a little more in some places, & less in others, but either way, I would never describe it as a painful experience – uncomfortable is what I’d call it. Both of mine were over very soon, too. After my first one, I was a tiny bit nauseous, & needed some sugar. After my second one, I waltzed out the door, ran to my place to grab my violin, & sprinted to an evening dress rehearsal I had for a concert the following evening. I played difficult music under hot lights for two hours with no issue. No big deal – at least not for me!

By the way…to all of the chronically ill people who might be reading this: I understand your craving for the sense of control. I get it, I really do! I would encourage you to be as safe as possible if you do want a tattoo, a piercing, or some other form of body modification, especially if you’re on immunosuppressants. I actually did wait it out for my first one, & I had good blood levels – good enough to be classified as “normal.” For the second one, my white blood cell count was quite low…& I still went ahead & did it. I’m not saying “don’t do it” because I’d understand if you did. I’m just going to go on the record, be a mom, & say: be careful! I do owe you that.

If you’re not chronically ill, I hope you’ve still gotten something out of this post! I hope I answered the constant question (that I also kept asking) of how much a tattoo hurts as clearly as I could. It’s hard to describe; it’s easier to actually feel it yourself. “Cat scratch” is the closest thing I would pin it to.

People always say: “imagine what that’s going to look like on you when you’re old!”

Guess what? Age is going to affect me no matter what. Even if I’m a tattoo virgin, my skin will still wrinkle! I’ll notice my boobs are drooping; see some age spots pop up. I already have some scars on my body that I didn’t ask for. I don’t care how wrinkly my fangs get, & I don’t care what my left side boob looks like at age 75. I really don’t. Those other scars will be there, & they’ll be a reminder of bad, painful things I went through; the tattoos will serve as a reminder of some happy memories or events that I experienced throughout life. That’s what I like to call tattoos: happy scars that I chose to recieve. I like that…& I like my tattoos. No…I love my tattoos!

Love,

Sof ❤

Whoops, I Did It Again! Why I Shaved My Head (Again): Diary

Here we are again. I’m bald! History truly does repeat itself.

“Why’d you do it again?” Okay. Well…I had another post all ready to go about shaving my head & how the experience was & how I did it. I didn’t really plan on doing it again so soon (though I knew I would again sometime in the future).

Here’s some backstory on why I shaved my head in the first place (about a year ago: late June of 2016): I really, really wanted a tattoo. I wanted a tattoo so badly!! (side not: stay tuned for a post about my tattoo experience) Thanks to my medications that suppressed my immune system, however (making it difficult to fight off infections), my doctor & my mother (especially my mother) told me to wait. Tattoos don’t have to come now, I was told. Tattoos could wait.

It’s not like I didn’t understand why it would have been unsafe to get a tattoo at that time – I “got it.” But…I was angry that my illness was making it harder for me to do things that I wanted to do. This is just one of many things that is a constant annoyance for me. Yeah, not being able to get a tattoo at that time was super frustrating & I was very mad & sad about it…but it was also the perfect reminder that my illness was stopping me from doing things that others could go about doing without even blinking. Yes, it was just a tattoo…but it was also symbolizing all the other things I couldn’t do without first checking in with my doctor to make sure it was safe. Mostly, the answers to these questions would be “no” or “not yet.” I was a teenager who lived in the moment…so, I did not want to wait.

I kept griping about the tattoo, kept getting blood draws to check my white blood cell count…but nothing. I continued to be grumpy. I was sad about it. Worst of all, I felt helpless & out of control. Like I mentioned before, my illness so often dictates my behavior. That makes me crave (positive!) control when I’m able to get it.

So, June of last year, I was scrolling through my Instagram discover page & started seeing a lot of models – even high fashion ones! – with shaved heads. It immediately clicked for me: this was something I could do to show myself & others that this was still my body & that I still had some control. Plus…it looked really, really, really cool.

Not long after, I grabbed $15, headed to the closest Supercuts, & told the girl to “take it all off.” I got a lot of adrenaline. I got a bit nervous. But did I have second thoughts? Nope!!! As soon as I felt clippers on my head I felt lighter; more carefree. It was amazing.

A few months later, I checked my blood results & saw that…my counts were high enough to get my tattoo! Of course, I did it ASAP – also something I have no buyer’s remorse over. I started to just let my hair grow (without trimming it or stressing over it) & even got one more tattoo.

In terms of health, I’ve been in quite a bad condition since March – even before. In addition, I was diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis related to my Crohn’s Disease – something that took away my first & foremost dream: to finish a degree in violin performance & go on to be a professional musician.

That dream was yanked from my hands (read my piece about it here if you have further interest!), & I was heartbroken about it. It is probably the largest, most important thing that my illness has taken away from me. I stopped playing in April, once my semester was over, & slowly but surely began to feel lost, unlike myself, unsure of my future, & a whole lot of other things. None of them were good.

A straw broke the camel’s back this past week. I had 3 appointments with 3 different doctors – & I got some very frightening news from one. I was reminded by this doctor that “Crohn’s has taken everything from you” (no shit!) & that she, the doctor, would make it better if I would listen to the frightening & overwhelming advice she hit me with.

I cried all the way home; I got into a screaming match with my mother. I was in quite a state. I felt like yet again, I’d had my own life & body yanked from my hands…by both my illness & by the way my doctor presented me with options. I felt empty again. I felt sad. I felt scared. Sounds familiar.

So, once more, I grabbed $15, went to my local Supercuts, & shaved my almost-bob-length hair down to a 2”. It was like I could feel stress, worry, & sadness melting away from me – dropping to the ground like my strands of hair. I left feeling worlds better. Did I forget the stress of the previous days? Of course not. I did, however, feel less stressed about the previous days.

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A post-buzz (this time around) selfie immediately after – so, right on the curb outside Supercuts

Again – it was like I was telling the world: “Hey!!!! This is me! This is my body, my hair, & my illness. I can do what I like.”

That seems unrealistic, but honestly, it’s true. I could stop taking medications tomorrow. I could get a tattoo whenever I wanted. I could eat the foods that aren’t healthy for my digestion. I could do all of that. I might become more ill because of that behavior, but I could do it if I wanted to.

Knowing that, & rubbing my hand over my velvety-soft head, I started to feel calmer. I could think with clarity. I started approaching my situation with a more objective, rational mindset. All in all, the feeling of control I got from buzzing my head reminded me that, no matter what, I hold the reins.

That’s some pretty heavy stuff! However, shaving my head isn’t entirely because of my health situation. Although I did it because I felt frustrated by the lack of control I possessed, once I shaved my head, I also started to enjoy how it made me feel, how it encouraged me to stop stressing over the way I choose to label myself (I just say I’m LGBT!), & how it allowed me to play around with makeup & clothing in new, experimental ways. It changed my style, & it even changed my demeanor. I loved it. I feel the same way this time around.

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Hospital glamming it up in a surgeon’s office. No hair, lots of confidence

So: I’ll always feel helpless in some situations, thanks to my illness…but I’ll also always have the option to express my frustration, my anger, my sadness, my joy – any emotion! – with my hair. Because it’s hair. It doesn’t hurt or help me. It’s just hair.

You might ask if people judged me, called me ugly, or something along those lines. The answer? I was asked a couple times: “did you do a Britney?”

…Maybe? Britney Spears shaved her head when she was in a bad mental place. I would guess she craved control, too. I don’t really have the answer to that – but I can say that both times that I’ve shaved my head, I, too, was in a stressful mental (& physical) situation. I did it to release, & I have had no regret over how my release turned out.

My family was a little confused, but they came to understand. I got some rude anons in my inbox (who doesn’t), I got some double takes from people I passed on the street, & I was called “sir” a few times. None of that bothered me. I felt free, I felt like myself – & I had some control.

It’s just hair, & it also is more than hair. My hair, or lack thereof, is a reminder that ultimately, this is my body, my choice. I call the shots. Whether the result of the shots I call are harmful is my business, & no one else’s.

I have a lot of decisions to make in the next few weeks (even days). Right now, though, I’m living in the moment, content with the fact that I could go out & do something dramatic, expressive, & liberating without having to worry about how my body would react to it.

Bald Sof is Sof at her most vulnerable, most emotional, most confident. “But you looked so pretty with all that hair!” Guess what: I did! I also look very pretty without “all that hair.” Hair isn’t what defines my beauty – it’s how I express myself, how I behave towards others, how I can lift up & support my friends & family, & so much more. Buzzing my head makes me feel most like myself. It even makes me feel like no matter what, I will always have my body, my emotions, & my mind. If it takes me being bald (& beautiful!) to feel this way…I’ll do it until the day I die.

Oh! & I made a YouTube video about this topic that sort of goes with this post – it also talks about why I shaved my head, & how it makes me feel. Perfect for all you lovely people who like to snack while watching YouTube & going 1000 feet deep at 3 a.m. You know. Check it out here!

Sof ❤

 

Why I Stopped: Diary

Some of you may already know this about me; some of you may have no idea! But I’ve gotten a lot of requests lately to post about my favorite classical music, composers, pieces, genres, etc.

I’ve politely declined all of these requests, & there’s a simple reason for that. Why? It’s because, when I was at a birthday dinner for my sister in late April, Mozart came on in the restaurant. I started shaking. I went inside myself. I didn’t want to talk, interact with anyone, or be there anymore.

It’s because, when I was in the car on my birthday, driving home from a doctor’s appointment, the Bruch Violin Concerto came on shuffle on my mama’s phone. I started crying, hunching over in the front seat, my body heaving with sobs.

It’s because when I look at any photographs of myself holding a violin, playing the violin, or, God forbid, see a video of myself playing the violin, I cannot contain my sadness. I cannot contain my grief. It feels, every single time, like my heart is being ripped out of my chest.

Why?

Because I “quit” violin this spring. Not actually quit – I’ll still have to play, take lessons at my university, & I will be continuing as a music major (under a different category with several other cognates) – but I had to give up on my dream of being a performing violinist.

Here’s some back story. When I was 4, my parents gave me a violin, & I started lessons with the Suzuki method. My parents are not musicians, but they are lovers of classical music, & they took me & my siblings to the symphony from a very early age. One of the first musical memories I have is going to a performance of the Four Seasons, led by Itzhak Perlman (even if you’re not knowlegable about classical music, chances are you know his name). I continued going to concerts. I continued lessons. By age 12, I was set on being a professional violinist.

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At age 6 or 7, playing away 

Yes…this seems young to make up your mind about a career, right? Well, with music (dance is similar) early decisions are crucial. When your body is young, your muscle memory is best, you’re at your most flexible, & you’re able to learn quickly & effectively, provided you have a teacher who’s giving you correct technique & support.

So…yes! By age 12 I’d pretty much made up my mind that this was the career path for me. I never doubted myself. I practiced for up to 5 or 6 hours a day (that was when I was preparing for an audition, a concert, or just a tough lesson), I threw completely threw myself into the world of classical music. I went to concerts. I studied various techniques of various famous violinists. I read books about violin prodigies, such as Midori, Itzhak Perlman, & so many others. They fascinated me. Their music fascinated me. Their art fascinated me.

I also had to juggle a high school career with my side hustle of rigorous musical preparation. It was particularly difficult by junior year of high school. I had ACTs, college applications were looming – but most importantly, I had my music school auditions the next year – & I needed to be absolutely perfect. I needed a scholarship, I needed a good school, a good teacher, & support. I probably slept 3 hours a night. I fueled on caffeine & adrenaline. I’d listen to recordings of “my” concerto (the one I’d play for my auditions) at 1 am & at 1 pm. I’d record myself. I’d listen to my own recordings obessively. I’d fix my mistakes. When I couldn’t, I’d kick a wall. I yelled a lot at my own hands. But they always ended up doing the right thing.

In the second semester of my senior year of high school, I was jetting all over the country to various auditions for various music schools. I got accepted at quite a few with financial aid – for several, I got a full scholarship (I ended up at a school that offered me a full scholarship). I was relieved, I was happy, I was elated that it was over. I had given up 14 years of my life for 4 seven-minute auditions. & I nailed more than one.

I came back home, hopeful & happy, & ready to sleep. I went to a party about a week later with my mama. There were a lot of musicians there. There was music being played, cake being served. I remember I was wearing a black t-shirt dress, some high heel leather boots, & black lace tights (it was cold outside). I remember a lady coming up to me & telling me how beautiful my figure was. I remember feeling a throbbing pain in my abdomen. I ignored it. That’d been going on for years. It was just part of my norm…right?

Two days later, I was writhing on my bed, screaming in pain, asking for help, unable to function. I never knew what a 10 on the pain scale was until that moment. I was taken to the ER. No one knew what was wrong with me, except that I had a high fever, extreme pain, & some sort of infection. I was put on some morphine injections & hardcore antibiotics – antibiotics that burned my veins, made my mouth taste like metal, made me throw up when I had nothing to throw up. I was in there for about two & a half weeks. I was a zombie. I remember getting calls from my violin professor, telling me that I had recieved a full scholarship for my school of choice. I remember crying, & turning my face into the pillow. How could I be happy? I had no idea what was going on.

I was diagnosed with severe Crohn’s Disease in May of 2015. I got the phone call from my doctor on the morning of my prom. I went anyway; I don’t remember a lot of it. I was trying to be normal…what was normal??? Who was I anymore??? I tried to laugh it off when people asked me what had happened; why I hadn’t come back to school; why I’d gotten a home tutor to get my grades in order for graduation.

A few weeks later, I graduated high school. I still couldn’t really walk from pain, but regardless, I limped onto the stage to accept my diploma. I attended my university orientation in a wheelchair. I got through the summer, but there was pain – both emotional & physical. There was anger. There was sadness. I had no idea what was happening to my body, & why I was the Chosen One. However…I was determined. I knew that I had my dream, & I knew that I could do it. I picked myself up off the floor, & prepared to move into my freshman dorm.

Freshman year was difficult. I had pain, I had nausea, I had weekly trips to the hospital for iron transfusions & various biologic medications. I was put on chemo pills. I went to my morning classes, but I left often. I joked & said I was always thirsty. Instead, I was quietly being sick in the toilet bowl of the school’s basement bathrooms. But I always walked back to class. I always went to lessons. I performed more than once. & I played my heart out. My passion never left. I put my pain into my playing, & it was more emotional & raw than ever before.

I got through freshman year. I ended up with a 3.6 GPA, despite the hospital visits, the surgical procedures, the absences, the pain, the nausea, the blood, the crying on my bathroom floor at 2 am because nothing was working, no medications were helping, what the fuck was I going to do????

I ended my freshman year. I picked up my things & went to the Mayo Clinic with my mama. We hoped to find some new treatment that would get me out of my flare. We seemd to find something that did the trick. I was “better” last summer – I wasn’t cured, but my inflammation was less severe, my pain less frequent, my weight was “normal” (normal means something different to those with chronic illness than to those without one). I did a lot of interesting things. I shaved my head!  I went to Aspen & Breckenridge in Colorado. I’ve never felt so free – but at the same time, I was still going through pain. I started feeling depressed. Something was wrong. I didn’t know what, exactly – but something was off.

I started sophomore year with high hopes. I was in a better living situation, I was excited to begin new repertoire, I was ready to perform; to put my all into my music, to pour my heart & soul out to the audience until it was right at their feet, just waiting to be picked up.

And….some of that happened. Everything seemed “pretty okay” for the most part. I was having a lot of issues with mental illness – with depression, anxiety, even suicidal ideation. This is commonly correlated to a chronic physical illness. & it sucks. Yet, still – I kept up my grades, I kept working, I kept practicing. I knew I could do it.

Slowly, I noticed my weight was starting to go down. I don’t like to talk about numbers on a scale because I get a lot of comments about how my body is “goals” – & it is not. It is unhealthy, & I cannot do a lot of things because of the low energy, fatigue, pain, & high heart rate that goes with being underweight. But over the course of 4 months, I lost about 20 pounds. I was a walking, breathing skeleton. I don’t know how I kept going, but I did. I truly have no idea how I found the energy to play concerts that contained hour-long symphonies, rehearse a sonata with my pianist for at least half an hour, & also try to go out on the weekends (that ended pretty quickly).

Finally, the final straw made its appearance, & it broke the camel’s back. Since Christmas time (December 2016) I’d been having some “weird” hand issues, as well as some knee & foot issues. I charted this up to my low weight – there’s a lot of achiness & bone pain that comes with being underweight – but as time progressed, I noticed that my hands (& my feet) were not just painful – they were swollen. My knuckles looked knobbly. The tips of my fingers were blue, because my circulation was cut off. Within a few days of noticing this, I was in a full-out flare. I couldn’t open a door, tie my shoes, eat a meal with a fork (or a spoon) – & I definitely couldn’t walk to classes. &, obviously, I could not play the violin.

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My hand one day….
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…& then the following day…inflammation would get worse within 24 hours (if not less)

I visited a rheumatologist (a joint doctor) to see what was up. I already had an inkling, but in a few moments, she confirmed my suspicions.

Inflammatory arthritis in relation to Crohn’s Disease.

What’s that mean? Well, essentially, my Crohn’s Disease was not (& still is not) under control. In fact, ever since I was first hospitalized in March of 2015, I have been in a “flare” (that takes too long for me to explain – if you don’t know what it is, google it! There’s some very good articles that explain it very clearly & concisely). Because I’d been in a flare for so long, the inflammation in my digestive tract (where Crohn’s Disease originates) had slowly started to spread to other parts of my body – namely, my hands, my knees, & my feet.

I was put on a set of prednisone (steroids) & also given injections of cortisone in the actual knuckles of my hands (yup, it’s as painful as you might guess). The prednisone worked for a hot minute. But I knew it wasn’t a long-term solution…& my doctor knew that as well. As soon as I heard the words “inflammatory arthritis in the hands” I knew the game was up.

I went home, & I just sat on my bed for hours. I thought about the years I’d spent on the thing I loved the most. I thought of the time, the money, the love my parents had given & spent to make my dreams reality. I thought of my own time, my own tears, my own happiness, the performances I can never & will never forget, the joy of being told “you’re something special. You give something to the audience that not many people can do.” I sat quietly. I took my violin out of its case, & I cradled it in my lap. & then, I called my mama, I asked her to come up to school, & come visit my professor with me.

I told him the game was up. It was over. The diagnosis I got was a confirmation that I could not continue playing at the level that I wanted to. I’d spent hours crying, screaming, hitting my hands because they did not do what I wanted them to do. What had been so easy just a few months ago was now nearly impossible without experiencing excruciating pain. I couldn’t continue like this. I’d injure myself further, & I could not listen to myself deteriorating in performance quality.

He listened, & he understood. He asked me what he could do to help. I said that if I could have one more performance, before it was impossible for me to perform at the level I wished to perform, that would be the wish I’d like granted. He said “of course.” We set a date. & I prepared to the best of my ability.

I decided to play the Franck Violin Sonata (1st & 2nd movements). For those of you who might not know a lot about classical music, Franck wrote this sonata for his beloved friend & virtuoso violinist/renowned pedagogue Eugene Ysaÿe as a wedding gift. The piece was presented to Ysaÿe by Franck on the morning of his wedding. Ysaÿe learned the piece within a few hours & performed it at his wedding reception.

Although a wedding is a joyful occasion (hopefully) Franck’s sonata is somewhat controversial in that it is not always a “happy” piece – in fact, there is a whole movement that is nothing but intense, emotional turbulence. Not exactly a wedding march. The first movement has a gentle and sweetly reflective rocking theme & is the thematic core of the entire work. The second movement, my favorite movement of the sonata’s four movements, is turbulent, emotional, & extraordinarily difficult to play. It’s made me laugh; it’s made me cry. I love this piece with my whole being. I’ve performed it several times, & for whatever reason, it speaks to me. I wanted my “final performance” to be of a piece that held emotional significance for me. 

& so, I prepared, I prepared, I cried because my hands weren’t really doing what I wanted them to do – but when the day came, I was ready.

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No real smiles the day of this performance 

And so, I did what I had to do, & it hurt more than any other performance I’d had to play – both physicallt & mentally. My hands were already not cooperating with me. I had to make amends for what I couldn’t do. Still, I think it’s the best I ever performed.

That’s ironic, because I no longer will be able to express myself in the complex, emotional way that I was able when violin was part of my daily routine. But I had more to share & to give to my audience than ever before. That’s why it’s the best I played. Yes, I slipped up…yes, there were things my hands just wouldn’t do anymore. But emotionally, it was probably the best-rounded performance I’d ever given.

That’s a damn shame. Even as I type this, I’m looking down at my hands. People continue to tell me not to give up, to keep on trying to “do it!” Guess what: I can’t.

I wish with all my heart that this was not true. My hands simply can’t do it anymore. That’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to come to term with, and it’s unfair. It’s unfair that I have to deal with my body aging when I’m just 20 years old. It’s unfair that I had to give up on something that I love most because of an illness I did not ask for.

I don’t like to think of what ifs, because they’re unrealistic. I can’t help but wonder about what might’ve happened if I hadn’t been sick – if I hadn’t been hiding symptoms & pain for years, if I hadn’t brushed away the things I should’ve ran to my doctor or my parents for – would I still be playing? Would my disease be under control?

I don’t know. Maybe. The possibility that it would breaks my heart, & brings me guilt – so I try not to dwell on it too much. That doesn’t stop the violin from popping up in my dreams, though – more often than not, I’ll be sitting in a concert hall, listening to a faceless performer play something I’d always wanted to play, & now never will. I’ll wake up crying.

“What’re you going to do now?” is a common question among those who’ve accepted that I’m “moving on.” Truly? Truly…I have no fucking idea. I’ve learned a lot about myself these last few months. I’ve learned that I have more capabilities; I’ve learned that the 4-6 hours a day I would spend on my instrument can no longer apply to it – but the dedication, ambition, determination, creativity, & refusal to give up have stayed with me. For that, I am infinitely grateful. Because of the years I spent throwing myself into my music & my violin, I know that I will be able to keep going. I will even be able to keep ahead. These last two years, especially, have proven that.

I do not give up. I do not look at my choice to stop violin as giving up (usually…sometimes I’ll feel super bad about it & think of it as such). It was a choice I made for my health, for my dignity, & for the sake of my own sanity. There is nothing more frustrating than discovering your fingers & hands have slowly started to betray you…at the ripe age of 19-&-a-half.

Will I ever truly get over my choice to stop? No. I don’t believe I will. Will I always cry when I hear a certain piece, or be unable to talk to those around me if a classical piece starts playing in public? No, probably not. I think that I will be able to attend concerts in the future; I might even enjoy them. There will always be that twist of the knife – but music is now part of my blood. Just because I’m not going to be a violinist doesn’t mean I can’t stop music from affecting me in both emotional & physical ways. Even if I tried, I couldn’t stop that from happening.

& so, I’m continuing on, continuing school, continuing life. My violin case sits under my bed. I’m staring at it right now. It looks lonely. It feels lonely, to think of my violin sitting in there. It feels even lonlier when I think of the fact that the violin will no longer be an emotional outlet for me; that its therapeutic qualities – for me, at least – have trickled to a halt.

It feels torturous when I think about the dreams I’ve had, the dreams I continue to have, about playing something, or playing somewhere, or worst of all: being unable to play, locked in a room with a performer, having to listen to them play something I wish I could.

But this will not come to an end overnight. It won’t come to an end in 6 months. The violin has been the focal point of my life for over half my life. Something like this doesn’t just stop when you want it to. It’s in my mind, my bones, my blood. I hold my makeup brushes “weirdly” – & always have – because of holding a violin bow. When I throw my arms up in the air, my left arm crooks into that special position. When I hear a certain pitch, I’ll think of a note – think of a piece that starts with a note. I can’t erase these things from my mind or my body.

I don’t think I want to. It hurts every time something like this happens – it hurts because it’s a reminder of what I had to leave behind. But studying music was (& is) so amazing. No…I can’t “do” what I did before. But, although these little behaviors that I’ve picked up over the years with no thought are sometimes painful, they’re painful in a sweet way. They’re a reminder that this will always be with me. I was worried that I wouldn’t be thought of as a musician once I stopped telling people I was studying violin – because it is a crucial part of my identity.

I realized I didn’t have to tell people. It doesn’t matter what other people think. I know how many years (& tears) I spent on my music. I know how deeply it affected me. I know that it has changed me, shaped me, even – from a very early age. I will never be able to get rid of something so deeply engrained in me.

Right now, that hurts. But in a few years, I think it’ll be good. I will never not have this with me. It’s impossible to let go. For that, I’m grateful.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go cry for a bit. In a good way. In a healthy way. Because it’s okay for me to be upset about this. It’s even okay to be heartbroken. I’ve lost a huge part of myself, & there is no shame in shedding tears over this part of me that is now more shadow than solid…to the outsider, at least. In my mind, music – & violin – is raw, real, & very much with me; it is up close & intimate. & again…for that, I am, & always will be grateful.

Love,

Sof ❤

It’s Lonely in Here…& That’s Okay 

Hello! Here I am, hitting you with another personal post.

Some of you might ask: “Why don’t you take these issues to your friends?

My point exactly. being chronically ill is a lot of things. It’s different for each person. But one thing goes across the board: it’s lonely. Being chronically ill is lonely. 

Why? Well, because you feel like no one understands you. That’s true. No one will ever completely understand your pain, your struggles, your experiences. That’s something only you can carry with you. That sucks.

Being chronically ill makes you guarded. You’re wary of doctors, of visitors that come with smiles & flowers when you’re in the hospital – but not present when you’re at home. You’re wary of friends who’ve said too much, or said nothing at all when you needed them most. You’re wary of your own family. You wonder if you’re an inconvenience to them; whether your being too ill for that one birthday dinner harbored some resentment. Some of this is untrue, & you know it – but there’s some part of your mind that is always fearful of what might be the real truth. 

Because you’re guarded, you lash out. Or you draw inwards. You sit on your bed for hours…sometimes because you’re too tired or in too much pain to get up; sometimes because you’re afraid that if you go anywhere you’ll face rejection.

I know that being sick is lonely. & unfortunately, I have this for the rest of my life…so, I’ve learned, for the most part, to embrace my solitude; to even find some joy in it. I enjoy spending time by myself & with myself – but when I forget that I cannot lean on others, that I am sometimes too much for others…I get hurt again. And again.

This has happened several times now. I’m getting better. I know I am! & I can’t always be the perfect judge of a person or a situation. Chronically ill people gravitate towards other chronically ill people; it’s because we share experiences & jokes & sorrows. This is great & also terrible. Sometimes those people are not capable of being there for you. It’s something you need to be aware of. I try to be…but that still doesn’t make it hurt less when I’m “forgotten.”

To those who cry at 3 a.m. over pain – whether it’s physical or emotional – it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be sad about your loneliness; it’s okay to feel angry about a situation, a relationship, or a friendship that did not work out.

Be gentle with yourself. Try to be gentle with the other person/people. Be gentle to your body (You can yell at your doctor, though). Understand that others are fighting their own battles. It’s not an excuse for their behavior, but it makes you more empathetic; gives you context; lets you let go. & once it’s all over & done with, it feels good to let go. Write it out, talk it out, cry it out, paint it out, stare at your ceiling for hours on end. It’s okay. Those are all ways of coping with rejection, loneliness, & unkindness without hurting yourself. Do them. They might even feel good. Some of the best things I’ve ever created/some of the best concerts I’ve ever performed were in situations of extreme emotional or physical pain/stress. I work well when I’m in pain – it gives me something to distract myself with – so that’s when I am busiest. You might feel differently. It’s still okay to stare at the ceiling, you know. I’ve done that too. It’s okay.

It will feel good to be alone. I love being alone. I love spending time with myself, with my animals, going for walks at all hours of the day or night (if I am able). I love crying and dancing to music in the shower, on my bed, on my floor.

That’s what I’ll be doing tonight. The new Lorde album was made for this, did you know? It’s made for the lonely ones. It’s good to be alone. Love your silence, love your solitude. Forgive the people & things that have hurt you – including your own body.

Remember that you’ll always have yourself. I am me. I am no one else’s. I look like me, I am me, & I will always be me. The same goes for you. I promise. I’m here. You’re here. We’re all here. We are taking up space. & we are doing it all by ourselves, in one world.

(Sorry for all the jumbled thoughts – this is a diary, after all, & I’m trying to put all my thoughts here so you can get in my head for just a brief moment. This was written when I was sad, & lonely, & tired. But I will remind myself that being lonely is okay. There’s comfort, & romance, & beauty in being alone. Remember that as I try to remind myself of that.)

Stay lonely, & be loving.

Love,

Sof ❤